PGA Championship :: a look ahead

2014 08 453170016

The PGA Championship tees off at Valhalla on Thursday, with 99 of the world’s top 100 players aiming to take Jason Dufner’s crown. Let’s take a look at some of those in with a great chance of major glory this week.

The favourite

Rory McIlroy is the bookies favourite to win the PGA Championship, and for good reason. Winner of the trophy in 2012, the new world No.1 looks in ominous form heading into the Valhalla contest after back to back wins coming in the Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week. He’s many peoples pick this week to win his fourth major.

Defending champ

Jason Dufner has a job on his hands if he’s to defend his title. In his last four events, the American has missed the cut twice, the US Open being one. He also never made the weekend at Augusta this year, and finished an underwhelming 51st in the Open at Royal Liverpool. With Tiger Woods being the only player in the strokeplay era to defend the PGA Championship, Dufner needs a change in fortune if he’s to mount a serious defence.

Likely to challenge

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Final Round

American Jim Furyk is around 40/1 to lift the PGA Championship trophy. In the majors so far his season, the world No.8 is yet to finish outside the top 20. What’s more, in the Players Championship he finished runner-up to Martin Kaymer. The Ryder Cup veteran has had a solid 2014, rising from 21st in the world to eighth since the start of the year. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if he was in the mix this weekend.

The outsider

Patrick Reed’s fourth place finish at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week was a huge step towards Ryder Cup qualification for the 24-year-old. After winning the Humana Challenge and the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier in the year the American’s form dipped. With an improvement in form in his last four events - his best a fourth place finish at Firestone - Reed looks to be putting the shadow of his ‘top five comments’ behind him. He may put together a serious challenge at Valhalla.

Tiger Woods

The 14-time major winner is still in the field for the PGA Championship at the moment, despite suffering yet more back problems in Firestone’s final round. The four-time PGA champion – who was victorious at Valhalla in 2000 - needs to play well if he’s to make the FedExCup Playoffs, and to prove to US Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson he’s worthy of a place in September’s team. At around 30/1, can anyone remember a Tiger having such high odds heading into a major?

PGA Championship :: Groups to watch

PGA Championship - Preview Day 1

11:30am GMT – 1st tee - Brian Norman, Russell Knox, Roberto Castro

11:55am GMT – 10th - Shaun Micheel, Colin Montgomerie, Michael Block

12:05pm GMT – 10th tee - Rickie Fowler, Victor Dubuisson, Ernie Els

12:35pm GMT – 10th tee - Padraig Harrington, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods

12:45pm GMT – 10th tee - Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Lee Westwood

1:05pm GMT – 10th tee - Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen, Justin Rose

1:10pm GMT – 1st tee - Stephen Gallacher, Jason Kokrak, Rafael Cabrera-Bello

1:25pm GMT – 10th tee - Russell Henley, David McNabb, Marc Warren

5:45pm GMT – 1st tee - Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Rory McIlroy

5:55pm GMT - 1st tee - Jason Dufner, Y.E. Yang, Keegan Bradley

*Bold denotes Scottish player

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